Best Ways to Learn Your Way Around a New City

Some might say the best way to learn your way around a new city is to explore and find things on your own. However, when you’re in another country and perhaps don’t speak the native language, this kind of exploration can be risky. Instead, find maps, use travel apps, and know who you can reach out to on your free days to explore a new-found city.


Who and what you need to find your way around new cities abroad

Your first line of defense will be your travel director. This person already knows the ins and outs of the city you’re visiting, and can tell you where to go, where not to go, and inform you of the best places to visit on your free days. Feel free to ask your travel director’s advice before you travel or even after you’ve landed at your destination. They will help equip you with the knowledge, tips, and tricks you need to know to navigate on your own. This is the most reliable and effective way to learn your way around fast.

A detailed paper map for walking around the city

For sightseers on foot, a detail-oriented map designed specifically for walking around a new city works wonders. While the best guidebooks in the world do contain maps of cities across the globe, they usually don’t have the level of distinction needed for a walkabout. The best time and place to get your “on-foot” map is at the first bodega or shop you come across in a new foreign city. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get one of these for free, but if not, they are extremely cheap. Known also as a sightseeing map, a portable map for walking through the city will show you everything you need to know. This includes where to find the subway, train, and bus stations, and exactly where all the main attractions, hotels, and other venues are.

Download a few travel apps

To help you get around on foot, by public transit, in a taxi, or otherwise, there are a number of terrific travel apps available to download to your smartphone or tablet. The best travel apps for your iPhone or Android smartphone will have a few options for exploration to ensure you find what you need—without getting lost. While some of the best travel apps for new cities are free, you may find a handful of top-rated travel apps with added features for around $2–$3. The most effective travel applications for your phone or tablet will show you maps of the city, but give you an insider’s view, allowing you to spot special places that are primarily only known by locals. Another feature to look for is a digital map that shows you various routes to and from key points of interest, for example, two or three ways to get to and from your hotel to a specific restaurant or museum. Other travel apps made for smartphones have been developed specifically to help you find the best-rated restaurants, bars, museums, and live events in real-time. To get what you want out of smartphone and tablet travel app, your best bet is to download more than one to address a variety of travel needs.